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Sharks & Boys Hardcover – June 28, 2011
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I wanted to enjoy this novel more than I did. The premise is an interesting one. The survivor aspect is really intriguing. I just don't think there was enough. It gets into the nitty gritty about what condition the body becomes after being stranded at sea. I personally would have liked more detail, but to some there may be enough. I'm not squeamish, so I could've handled more. I honestly wanted more story. It wasn't fully explained that the group of friends were all twins until well into the novel. I had a hard time connecting with the main character. She was slightly annoying, and she didn't really grow much in the novel. Also, at the end, it just stops. I don't really get any answers as to what happened after, which is really frustrating. It was still enjoyable, but I felt it was missing some core aspects.
The break, of course, leads Enid to think Wick wants to be with another girl - or girls. So, while she's with her mother delivering the wedding cake (the one with the sea creatures), she does a very irresponsible, un-Enid like think: she takes off. Not just to anywhere, though. To Maryland.
The boys, including her twin brother Landon and Wick are having a party and Enid is sure Wick is going to use the opportunity to cheat on her. So she's going to use the opportunity (that she's made) to spy on him and find out.
Only things go terribly wrong when the party moves to a boat and the boat moves to sea . . . and a hurricane comes. Shipwrecked miles from shore with sharks surrounding them, the teens will have to confront their fears and problems with each other if they hope to survive.
And even then it's only a hope.
When I first began reading Sharks and Boys I forgot the summary and thought that the sharks on the cover were just referencing the marzipan sea animals and that I'd gotten the real shark/survival part wrong. I was glad to know I had not made it up. (Not because I'm some crazy person who wants teens eaten by sharks but because it had the possibility to make a much different tale.)
Having eight teenagers stuck in the ocean for almost all of a novel is definitely different and very interesting. I really liked the issues that arose due to the circumstances. There was thought put into how they would have to survive, what they would have to do - it wasn't just used to get them away from civilization and then they were floating pleasantly along.
The characters names were a little distracting, however. Usually I like different names, I think this time because it was only the characters for so much of the book, I just kept wondering why their names were what they were. (Some of them were explained towards the end of the book and maybe if they were explained earlier on, it would have been easier.)
Because the majority of the book is the characters on the water, you really have to like the characters (Enid especially) to love this book. I didn't dislike the characters, per se, but I did not love them either. I could understand why Enid and Wick were on a break, they didn't seem to be these to people that should be together. The characters all had quite a few issues (family wise, etc) to make them human & unique but I never quite connected with them.
Tracy does a phenomenal job keeping the story afloat (no pun intended) through the dialogue between the eight teens lost at sea. I will admit that I was filled with trepidation since "lost at sea" novels can be quite boring, balancing the entire story on description, and I am thankful that Tracy didn't do that in this story. There was a lot of dialogue and I think that it was quite accurate. If I was lost at sea on a raft with seven other people, I can see it panning out very similarly. I'd want to know how many people have been rescued in the past, what we should do to stay alive, how often sharks attack humans, project when we'd be found and, of course, argue. With eight people in a tightly enclosed space, that arguing is probably going to start sooner rather than later (and I'd probably be a huge proponent of it), and I think Tracy did a great job keeping reader interest.
Now, that being said, I also have to admit that I didn't necessarily care for any of the characters within the story. While I did have a sense of foreboding and wished them all well, I never had a deep connection with them in which I really felt there pain, and I think part of the problem is that Enid, the main protagonist, drove me crazy. Her extreme insecurity was quite obnoxious and, if I were Wick, I would have dumped her too. I realize that she has a lot going on in her life and her parents' relationship has a lot to do with her insecurities, but I had a hard time getting past her rash responses to the different situations she finds herself enduring. It's almost as if she lacks common sense, and that portion of the novel wasn't my favorite, which is why, overall, I give this novel three and a half stars.